A Journey of Foolish Intentions

A moment of clarity

As I was sitting in our master bedroom closet one day, going through clothes that never get worn, I came across some of my baby/toddler dresses. My Mom had saved them for me so that one day I could put my daughter in them. At that time, I had two boys and no girl. The tears started to well up in my eyes. My heart just ached. I knew I was not done. I knew our family was not complete.

During the two to three years prior to my closet realization, we had been building relationships with several different families that had successfully been through the adoption process. This really started me down the path, exploring this adoption idea. I was seeking God’s guidance, asking questions, and talking with my husband, hoping to get some clarity. We had the opportunity to join one of the families at an adoption conference. Wow! What an experience.

After attending this event, the idea of adoption turned into willingness, which then became desire. This longing to open our home, give our love, and share our family with a child that had no one was even stronger, but being the kind of person who thinks, “I have to know what the plan is and how it is all going to work out“,  I began to get overwhelmed. I had no idea how we were going to get the thousands of dollars to pay for this whole process.

Once we got home from the conference, after an unusually silent ride, I decided to lay down to take a nap. My mind was still churning and turning with all that I had seen and heard that day. Unable to fall asleep, I sat up and opened my Bible to Philippians 4:11 and it said:

“not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.”

Hmmmmm, ok. I’m not sure what that is about, so I laid myself back down and finished my nap.

Later that evening, after we had gotten the boys to bed, my husband and I sat in our bedroom. I asked him what his thoughts were from the day. He said, “What are you thinking?” in a way that let me know he already knew what was on my mind. I told him that I was thinking that we really needed to start pursuing the idea of adoption, but that I didn’t know how we were going to afford something like that. He sat there for a second or two before saying that if this idea of adoption is something God was laying on our hearts, then we have to be content in knowing that He is going to work out all the details. At that moment, Philippians 4:11 popped back into my mind – learning to be content in any situation. So right then, we decided that we were going to start the adoption journey and trust God to make our pathway clear.

Followed by a lack of clarity

Ask anyone who has gone through the adoption process and they will tell you that it is not an easy road to travel. It is probably going to be one of the most curvy, bumpy paths you will ever go down. Ours was no exception.

One of our first decisions was whether we were going to stay in the US (domestic) or go international. Our first reaction was to go domestic. Part of the process is to sit through these required classes in which we listened to different people involved in the process talk about laws, rights, the process as a whole, different types of adoptions, fees, tax implications, and way more than I can even remember now. We were just about finished with the eight week course. We were sitting in class one night, listening to the personal testimonies of some very brave birth moms who had given their babies up for adoption. The moment was so intense. I started crying, trying so hard to hold back the tears, but they just flowed even faster. My husband, who was sitting next to me, turned and looked at me. He was trying to figure out what was wrong without making a big commotion. All I could get out was, “This is wrong. I can’t do this. This is wrong.” That was it. I had no other explanation than that, but I knew this was not our path.

Another moment of clarity

So, for the next several weeks, we started looking into the international adoption arena. Goodness…it is so much more complex. It’s enough to make your brain hurt. We decided to seek the counsel of many different people and several different agencies just to determine which country we wanted to adopt from. After a few weeks and lots of prayer, we finally had it narrowed down to two different countries. It would either be Haiti or The Democratic Republic of the Congo. Both countries were known to have a very difficult process, but we were ok with that.

My “song” during this time was Kings and Queens, by Audio Adrenaline. Every time I heard that song, I would get so emotional. We ultimately decided that we would adopt from The Congo. It was at this point that everything began to get even more intense. I started learning things that would shake the foundations of what I thought I knew about adoption. Not only is the legal process way more complex, but the whole system in some of these third world countries, from orphanages to governments, is really corrupt. It really made me rethink the way I view adoption and taking care of orphans.

Followed by confusion and disillusionment

We, here in America, get so caught up in our “first world” problems that we forget, or just choose to ignore, the fact that other places in the world don’t work the same way. We – and when I say we, I mean me – get caught up in the idea that when Jesus talks about taking care of orphans and widows that means we are to adopt all the orphans and bring them to America. Problem solved. And the world will be a better place. Kum Ba Yah.

Now, let me stress, I know that there are many, many families out there who have adopted and many, many orphans out there who have been, and needed to be, adopted. I think it is an AMAZINGLY, BEAUTIFUL, BLESSED, THING TO DO! I was, and still am, willing to do that if that is what we are called to do. But, please hear me when i say this; I learned through our process, that adoption might not be the answer for every orphan out there. Something I didn’t realize before, but learned, going through the process was that in some parts of the world, living in an orphanage doesn’t actually make you an orphan. A child might be classified as an orphan, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that their parents are dead, or that there’s not other family available to care for them. Well that shocked the hell out of me. Let’s be honest, when you think orphan, you think no parents, right?!? Well, I did!!!

I want to explain in a little more detail. Here in America, we have DFACS, and food stamps, and welfare…things like that. While there are definitely a lot of things wrong with this system, and I’m not looking for an argument on that topic, it is a lot better than what most third world countries have. Did you know that there are times when a mother or father may choose to drop their child off at an orphanage (child abandonment) because he or she can’t provide enough food for their child? Or because he or she is very sick, due to poor environmental and health conditions, or even due to extreme poverty? The hope is that, one day, they can come back for them. Also, there are places where a village might be raided and children taken from their families. Yes, child trafficking does exist!! Some of these children may end up in an orphanage.

What I began struggling with, and the question that stayed with me was this: how do we know that a child we adopt is truly in need of a family or not? I would ask myself, “Well, if the parents couldn’t take care of the child, but they’re still alive, hoping for a miracle, then is adoption the right thing for that child?” I couldn’t, and still can’t, say yes to that for sure. Being that I was already a mother gave me a motherly perspective, though. What if I was that Mom that had no other choice than to drop off my child so they could eat? What if there were other family members that weren’t fully aware of the situation? What if some monster came into my village and stole my child? What if? What if? What if? The thought of some of these things just made my heart break. If I was that Mom, what would I have prayed, or wished for? What would Jesus have looked like to me? Would it have been an American family coming in and adopting my child? For some, yes. Maybe that is the answer for them. But it’s not the answer for all.

I have prayed and pleaded with God many nights over the care and safety of my children. I can’t even imagine the pain of having to walk away from your child because there are no other options and no one to help you in any other ways. As this back and forth battle would rage inside my mind, all I could do was trust that God would show us the way and the right path would be laid before us.

Surprised with a new path and a new journey

Right after our home study was complete, and like many others who’ve traveled this road, we found out that I was pregnant with Andrew!! That was definitely a sign from God that we needed to step away from the adoption process at that time. But, little did we know the battle that lay ahead of us or how things would all come full circle.

As a Mom, over the years, I have researched and educated myself sick, literally, on what were the best things I could do, and the best things I could give, and feed, to my children. And through all of that, a new love for the simplicities of life has sprouted up in me. Again, here in America, we are often all about the next new thing, or making the million dollars, or making that next career move. We forget to be content with where we are. Ah, there is that word again from Philippians 4:11. My husband and I have been very fortunate over the last few years to have a business and clients who have been very gracious to us. And we have just recently started another business to help bring in some additional income and hopefully help lots of people. The mission of the company is to inspire healthy living around the world. Well, that got me thinking, and sitting silently with God to hear what He has to say about this.

So now, as I sit here typing this all out, and my sweet baby Andrew is almost a year old, I find myself being drawn back into this idea of taking care of third world orphans. What, Lord, do you ask me to do? As I had written back in my first post, I really am wanting to trust in Him fully! I have been so worried over the last several weeks about our financial situation, which is nothing new and not necessarily that bad, compared to some, I’m sure. Then one day it dawned on me. My focus, and all my energy, was so wrapped up in the worry over finances, that I had no energy left for anything else. Is that how God wants me to live? Absolutely not!!!

My heart and this new vision

So many orphans are malnourished, or sick, and severely underweight. I believe that God can do something about that. And I believe he can use me, and my family to do something about that. It’s time to say, here I am Lord, use me. I have this dream in my mind, that through our new business efforts, we are going to help provide nourishment to some orphans. I don’t have all the details worked out, but right now, my thought is that for every sale that we make we are going to donate to this cause. This idea is still in the baby stage and it can do a lot of changing, I’m sure. My dreams pale in comparison to how God sees things on down the line. And that is what I am betting on. (And if you’re interested in getting healthier, and helping us help others, please let me know.)

Did you know that more than 239 million people in Africa are malnourished? Imagine how many of those are children. The total population of the USA is 316 million. This is a big problem but adopting every single child abandoned due to poverty is not the only answer. As well intentioned as we were going into this process, and as well intentioned as I know many people are, not everyone in this world is out to help or save these children. The corruption is rampant in some of these third world governments, as well as certain agencies, and even some orphanages. We can not turn a blind eye to these kinds of injustices. These children are not for sale, I don’t care how good your intentions are. Let me repeat what I wrote earlier, too. I believe that adoption is ordained and one of the most beautiful and holy things that we as a society can do!! So many children out there have greatly benefited from being embraced into a forever home!!!! That stands as a constant for me and I’ll always stand in support of people who feel led to journey that path. But, I believe with all my heart that other options should also be considered; options that go after the root of the problem. If there’s poverty, we need to fight against that. We must be able to provide some hope to these people that they can overcome the poverty that leads to so many other issues.

I don’t have all the answers and I don’t know all the stats, but God knows every single need out there and He can do amazing things with just our little bit of faith. I am willing to step out there and see how he is going to multiply what we have to give. Are you willing? Are you willing to contribute to things that will have eternal impact?

My husband reminded me of this quote from Jim Elliot. He was a missionary to South America who lost his life while sharing the good news of Jesus and his love.

He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose. ~ Jim Elliot

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